Knowing Newark: Selected Star-Ledger Columns

An article from page 31 in Knowing Newark: Selected Star-Ledger Columns by Charles F. Cummings published by The Newark Public Library, 2016. The publisher's page, where the book is online. Page at Amazon. Book in WorldCat Libraries.

Knowing Newark p31 article

Wiss Co.

One of Newark's best known products was scissors or shears. They were first made here by Rochus Heinisch, and later by Jacob Wiss. Heinisch, who arrived here from Austria in the 1820s, created a substantial business. Wiss came here from Switzerland in the 1840s. He worked briefly for Heinisch and then went into business for himself, using his two great St. Bernard dogs to power his small grindstone. Over the years the scissor makers were great rivals. Their sons knew and interacted with each other most of their lives. Both firms made sugical shears and tailors' scissors and both boasted that their products were used even in Sheffield, England, the greatest cutlery center of the world. In 1914 the Wiss Co. finally won out and absorbed the Heinisch business. The company that emerged under the name of Wiss included its own retail stores and a real estate division as well. Employees were allowed to go door-to-door selling the product on their own time. During World War II the company was deeply involved in wartime production efforts. In the 1950s and '60s Wiss continued to prosper and a new office building was built here in 1970. The end of the line came in 1976, when Cooper Industries purchased Wiss and operations began moving south. Today, perhaps the only tie left to Newark is the pair of shears found in a household sewing basket bearing the phrase "Made in Newark, New Jersey."